Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.
Christina Diane Bane-Hayes, commonly known as Chris, was born 36 years ago in Beaumont, Texas. Today, she and her husband, Andrew E. Hayes, live in Richmond, Virginia. Chris, who works as a hostess and a cook, enjoys reading, arts and crafts, and, of course, cooking. She’s also an impassioned animal lover and is currently working to keep the feline population down by having feral cats fixed and released. (However, if they have feline AIDS, she strives to find them a home in a shelter or has to put them to sleep.) Chris said she’s trying to educate people about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets and getting them their shots. As for her faith, Chris is Episcopalian.
On the morning of Sept. 11, she was at home sleeping when her distraught husband woke her up with news about the attack. At first, she was in denial that her brother, Michael, worked in the World Trade Center. She would later learn he was one of thousands who didn’t manage to escape. Chris submitted the following March 10.
My husband, Andrew, woke me from a deep slumber on September 11th around 9:45 a.m. He had tears streaming down his face. The words did not come easy for him, and as I am a deep sleeper, I had trouble understanding what he was trying to convey, much less comprehend the enormity of how all of our lives were about to change forever. He said The World Trade Center towers had been hit by airplanes, that they were both on fire. My first reaction to this, as I started to shake, was, “Oh, those poor people, their families.” Of course, I was in complete denial that my younger brother, Michael, worked there and simply would not accept that fact. I kept saying, “No, Michael doesn’t work there anymore, he is safe.”
We went down the stairs. I grabbed the cordless off the wall and heard the familiar beep to let us know there were messages on our phone. I then looked at the caller ID and saw there were many messages. My mouth dry, my heart palpitating, I raced into the living room and turned on the TV. It was incomprehensible; Tower Two had already fallen and the North Tower was billowing thick black smoke. The fire was raging and I was now freaking out. At the time, I could not remember what floor Michael was on. I knew he was still safe because Tower One remained standing. I called the first person who had left a message on the machine; it was my cousin, Jennifer, in Dallas, Texas. I asked her if Michael was at work that day, and she said with tears in her voice, “Yes.” My knees buckled and I let out a pitiful wail. She said, crying, “I thought you knew already.”
I had to call Dad and Tara, Michael’s wife. I was scared out of my mind; shock and disbelief were already consuming my very being. The TV meanwhile was showing the pictures of The Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania. Still not understanding the entire picture, piecing this altogether, I was crying to Andrew, “Why are they showing that? I want to see what is happening in New York.” Andrew had to explain to me this was all part of the terrorists’ plot, that the plane that had crashed had been hijacked as well. It was hard enough to imagine my brother fleeing for his life with thousands upon thousands of other people trying to make it out of the WTC to understand what was happening to The Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.
I called my Dad. “Dad, what floor is Michael on?” He replied, “100th, it doesn’t look good.” There was a deafening silence; what more could be said? We tried to reassure each other that he was late for work, that he couldn’t get through on his cell phone. The possibilities and scenarios were working steadfast. I then had to call Tara. While I did not want to tie up her phone line, I had to touch base. Maybe, just maybe, she had heard something …
We never did hear from Michael again. His voice resonates through my mind, his kind demeanor and infectious laugh stay with me, gently tugging at my heartstrings with affinity. If I may, for a moment, share some of Michael’s life with you. He used to be a rebel when he was a teenager, no real direction, just getting by, trying to find himself. That changed when he decided to get his act together by going to Stony Brook College in Long Island, New York. There, he met Tara, his wife, and excelled and blossomed. They adopted a dog together, Casper, who is still alive today, and missing Michael profusely. Michael and Tara lived in such places as Hoboken, New Jersey, and finally settled into their own house in Yardley, Pennsylvania. He left behind two other dogs, Greyhounds, named Timber and Lizzie.
Michael never had an unkind word to say about anybody, and if he did, he kept these thoughts to himself. He loved the New York Yankees with unbridled passion, adored and doted on his wife and dogs, and was all about the great cuisine that New York had to offer. He was an avid guitar player and dabbled on the piano. There is a wealth of friends and family who know he can never be replaced. Michael was so proud to be a part of the Marsh family and was devoted to working in New York City. He always said he loved the energy it possessed. Michael Andrew Bane was one of those fellows who will be forever missed. April 14, 1968 – September 11, 2001.
And lastly, I wanted to extend my profound thanks to Jenna for making this all possible. Through her, there are many important stories being shared and woven together. I would also like to mention my heartfelt hellos to Patric, Petra and Britt, in which this publication is dedicated to their brother/son, David Tengelin. I hope to meet these fine people one day.
God Bless all!